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Southern Discomfort

Southern Discomfort

Paul Schrader’s fascination with life’s seamier underside continues in The Walker, whose titular character, Carter Page III is something of a latter-day incarnation of Richard Gere’s American gigolo. He escorts bored, rich wives around town but, this time, he’s effectively neutered: “Car” is gay (though aside from a few chaste forehead pecks and a single kiss shared with his supposedly hot-for-him boyfriend, you wouldn’t know it), and trades on his Wildean (he wishes) wit rather than orgasms, a Washington D.C.-set Will for any Grace to hire. Schrader’s final entry into the so-called “night worker” or “lonely man” saga, loosely beginning with his Taxi Driver script for Scorsese and crystallized in writing-directing combos American Gigolo and later Light Sleeper, sees the filmmaker reworking the same movie again, but without illuminative expansion or revision–save for a more downbeat ending–and so the gesture goes wasted.

The Walker, as per its predecessors, features a male protagonist (leadenly played by Woody Harrelson) who makes a tax-free living, gets mixed up in a crime, and follows the beacon of redemption–real or imagined–shone by a woman at the center (this time around played by Kristin Scott Thomas). Click here to read Kristi Mitsuda’s review of The Walker.

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